This was not our first trip to the cyphirically named ‘$$$ Grills & Martinis’ on Exmouth Market, which can usually be relied upon for a good thick steak speared dramatically with a serrated knife; but it was our most underwhelming. From past experience we avoided the martinis – which whilst delicious aren’t perhaps suited to a wednesday evening supper, and usually take quite some time to prepare.
Dollar is usually expensive, but with 2 for 1 on a Taste Card, reasonable so we both went for one of the larger ‘Million Dollar’ burgers. I checked with the waiter that the burger was suitable for my diet, and whilst he seemed confused, he dutifully checked with the chef who said ‘no because of the bun’. I sent him back to ask if ok without a bun and I got the nod. This didn’t inspire too much confidence so I safely opted for spinach with pine nuts and a jacket potato on the side.
Now I’m not sure if it was because we were midweek, whether they have been making some changes, or just because in the past I have been lubricated by a few pear martinis; but the quality of the food was not up to scratch considering the price. The burger was fine, but unremarkable. The thick layer of melted cheese and the salsas making things rather sickly and oily. The usual steak-knife spears had made way for wooden skewers. Our neighbours smaller burgers looked like teetering towers in their mass-produced sesame buns. My jacket potato was a hefty brick, which was almost certainly microwaved and thus hard and floury, swimming in a slick of butter and piled with too much sour cream. Spinach arrived with unexpected garlic and was bitter and watery. The trick to cooking succesfully for coeliacs is to make sure they enjoy their food so much they don’t notice what everyone else is having that they can’t – and I was getting chip envy.
I decided to console myself with dessert only to find icecream might be my only option. Just in case I asked the waiter to check the ingredients only to be told ‘we buy it in, so can’t guarentee’. Well yes, most places do buy in icecream, quite why they couldn’t check the box I don’t know – so I left for a glass of red wine elsewhere. Or rather tried to. It was a full 20 minutes after finishing that we finally tired of trying to catch our waiter’s eye to pay the bill and I went to get him. Disappointing.
Glutenfreeability 4 (menu has lots of potential options, but staff don’t inspire confidence)